• Travel
  • July19th

    4 Comments

    There’s something I’ve been keeping from most of my friends for a while now, and I have to admit that it has been INCREDIBLY hard to keep secret!

    But now that I’m further along in the process, I feel it’s a good time to put it out there.

    After 3+ months of getting together my application, background checks, transcripts, reference letters, and an hour-long web interview this afternoon – I have officially been nominated as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer for French-West Sub-Saharan Africa in Business Advising & Development for June 2012.


    A couple of years ago when I finished university at Louisiana Tech, I first filled out my application to the PC, but upon much introspection, I felt I may have been going into it for the wrong reasons. As cliché as it may seem, I wasn’t 100% comfortable with myself and my identity. My identity was very much connected to the identity that others had of me in North Louisiana – I was Ross Frazier the photographer, Ross Frazier the Tech student, or Ross Frazier – a member of the Frazier Clan (haha). I’d never truly left the area and I didn’t have much of an identity outside of it. I figured undertaking such a challenge as the Peace Corps may not be the best way to succeed at “finding myself” – I needed to be comfortable with “me” before taking on a job where people would be dependent on that definition of “me.”

    So I decided to continue school far away from “home” and far away from all the friends I knew and loved. Here I sit in Belgium, my new “home” surrounded by equally amazing friends. I’ve proven to myself that I can uproot myself and still find happiness; I can weather dark times and come out even better than before; I can make lasting friendships anywhere in the world; I can find a smile no matter the circumstances.

    It is after the revelation that has been my year+ in Belgium (remember THIS post) that I have decided NOW is the time – the RIGHT time to embark on a challenge bigger than myself, a challenge harder than anything I’ve undertaken before, a challenge more demanding than any previous in my life. That is why a few months ago, I began filling out my application, asking for references, getting fingerprinted, getting a background check, writing my essays, and interviewing for my entrance into the Peace Corps.

    All of the work, all of the stress (and keep in mind, it’s still just the beginning!) have culminated in the moment I enjoyed this afternoon: receiving a nomination to serve.

    I still have a lot of work ahead of me; a nomination does not equal an invitation. I must pass more tests, medical and legal among others, to make sure I qualify on all fronts. There is a chance that my nomination will not be the same (in terms of location and job description) as the invitation to serve that I will hopefully get after I pass the medical, legal, and other placement requirements are met. But nonetheless, this is a huge step in the process and I am beyond honored to have made it this far in the continued hope of serving the greater world community and continuing the exceptional reputation that the Peace Corps has built over the past 50+ years.

    So with great honor and enthusiasm in all of my heart, I am proud to announce this great decision in my life to you. I hope you will join me in this journey as I take on what will undoubtedly be one of the grandest experiences of my life.

    And as always, I appreciate the support, love, thoughts, prayers, and good vibes that all of my friends and family have provided over the years, and I will appreciate your continued support; y’all truly are the greatest!

     

    – Ross

     

  • July3rd

    No Comments

    Despite the fact that I’ll be staying in Belgium until September, a lot of my friends will not be. So as I begin to say my “see you laters” to my friends here, I’ve begun to contemplate once again: “why do we set ourselves up for these emotional roller coasters?”

    Unfortunately, I don’t really have a good answer…but while I was walking in the Brussels Central Park, I came up with the closest thing to an answer that I could:

    We put ourselves in these situations with inevitable good-byes because the moments and memories between the nice-to-meet-ya and good-bye far outweigh the momentary sadness of the end.

    So despite the sadness, I regret nothing. And after all, there is no such thing as good-bye, merely see-ya-laters; if not in this life, in our next.

    I’ve heard it said
    That people come into our lives for a reason
    Bringing something we must learn
    And we are led
    To those who help us most to grow
    If we let them
    And we help them in return
    Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
    But I know I’m who I am today
    Because I knew you…

    Like a comet pulled from orbit
    As it passes a sun
    Like a stream that meets a boulder
    Halfway through the wood
    Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
    But because I knew you
    I have been changed for good

    It well may be
    That we will never meet again
    In this lifetime
    So let me say before we part
    So much of me
    Is made from what I learned from you
    You’ll be with me
    Like a handprint on my heart
    And now whatever way our stories end
    I know you have re-written mine
    By being my friend…

    Like a ship blown from its mooring
    By a wind off the sea
    Like a seed dropped by a skybird
    In a distant wood
    Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
    But because I knew you

    Because I knew you
    I have been changed for good

    And just to clear the air
    I ask forgiveness
    For the things I’ve done you blame me for

    But then, I guess we know
    There’s blame to share
    And none of it seems to matter anymore

    Like a comet pulled from orbit
    As it passes a sun
    Like a stream that meets a boulder
    Halfway through the wood

    Who can say if I’ve been
    Changed for the better?
    I do believe I have been
    Changed for the better

    And because I knew you…

    Because I knew you…

    Because I knew you…
    I have been changed for good.

    To be honest, I never truly believed I would make such amazing friends in my short time here…but alas, I did. Amazing and true friends that I couldn’t be more thankful for…

    – Ross

  • April17th

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    I’ve had an iPhone since the first one came out – I actually WAITED IN LINE for one! hahaha I was one of those people…but I could NOT wait for it! Now, 3 iphones later, Apple has truly surpassed all expectations. With the help of the App store, the iPhone is a photographer’s dream! All of these are taken with an iPhone 4 and edited using random apps on the iPhone – I even used the iPhone to combine the before-&-afters and uploaded them to WordPress straight from the phone!

    I did a presentation on photography at the Lincoln Parish Library once as part of their summer learning workshops – I told everyone about what to look for in cameras, both small ones and large ones; however the most profound thing I said (in my opinion) was that the BEST CAMERA is the ONE YOU HAVE WITH YOU. You can have a $30,000 Hasselblad at the house, but if you see something you want to take a picture of and you miss it due to lack of a camera…well, that doesn’t make for a very good picture now, does it?

     

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    Greatchadayis!

     

    – Ross

  • October13th

    1 Comment

    Ya know what I miss?

    *****hin hint hint***** – look at title of this post.

    Yes…that’s right…I miss the occasional:

    Just every once in a while – I’d like to hug one of my friends here. But they don’t do it! It’s always a kiss on the cheek and a little touch on the shoulder or just a handshake between guys.

    I have mixed feelings about this, because you also do the whole cheek-kiss thing when you first meet someone, and I really like that. It’s very personal and an immediate ice breaker – an immediate connection. However there’s the whole “how many times do you do it” question which is, by no means, a little question with an easy answer…

    Spain & Italy: 2

    Netherlands: 3

    France: 1, 2, 3, OR 4 depending on location

    Belgium: 3

    Germany: air-kissing is restricted to family or very close friends. Handshakes are dominant.

    I also have some friends from Turkey and they also do 2.

    So whenever you meet someone, you not only have to remember their name, what they look like, and try to remember what they study, but you also get to remember where they’re from, what part of that country they’re from, and how many air-kisses are customary. This proves to be EXTREMELY difficult, let me tell you.

    So the moment you forget and default to just 1 air-kiss (as many people here in Belgium do, because I mean…lets face it, 3 is overkill) you get stuck with the other person expecting another one and you’re standing there looking at their face turned to the side. Then you get to do the whole “oh hahaha sorry! Let’s finish that!” kind of thing and try to fix the faux pas.

    Many people just say that you should look at what other people are doing and guess from that. Well there are a couple of issues with that:

    1) There are about 1,000 international students at this university representing no telling how many countries with no telling how many customs on air-kisses. My program is taught in English, so we’ve got students from literally all over the world…makes it VERY confusing.

    2) Most Belgians default to 1 kiss (traditional is 3, remember) with friends or people of their own age (USUALLY). So if you’re the new one in a group, you’ll notice everyone else just doing 1 air-kiss, but apparently you’re expected to do 3…sometimes… So yeah, I’ve had multiple awkward encounters on this point alone.

    So…my advice? I guess…just do some research! Make sure you know where you’re going and what the custom is in that area. When in doubt, just ask your friends what they think you should do; they’ll know…probably! But you should also just prepare yourself for some awkwardness: prepare your awkward laugh, get ready to swoop in with a witty phrase and finish off as many air-kisses as they apparently see fit…

    But back to the point – no one hugs here. When some friends and I went to Paris last weekend, we met up with some other Americans there and, of course, we all hugged each other! One of the girls actually yelled a little like “Ah! Americans who hug!”.

    CLICK HERE to continue reading the entire post

  • October1st

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    Hello, everyone!

    This is my 50th post! Happy Celebration! :)

    Also, I think the fact that today is October 1st AND it’s a Friday is such a great sign that this month will be a GREAT one! What better way to start off a month than with a weekend! So enjoy it! ;)

    Also – Today was such a GREAT day! I got to sleep in a little bit and then Mom came to pick me up and I went to Hasselt for the day! While Dad did a little yard work and hung out at the house, Mom and I went to work on my accumulated mass of laundry and did a little shopping! I got a ton of groceries and toiletries to restock my apartment and some clothes! Including this awesome coat:

    Then we met up with Dad and went for a beer (or two…) and some super LEKKER sushi at a new restaurant in Hasselt called Oishii!

    So aside from my personal updates, here’s yet another addition of “Funny Friday” to kick start your weekend with a smile!

    Enjoy!

    CLICK HERE to see entire post!